New car test drive

Vauxhall Combo Life test drive

The Vauxhall Combo Life is designed for active families who need space and practicality above all else.

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What is it?

The Vauxhall Combo Life is a very practical five- or seven-seater minivan, designed with an active family life in mind. With two sliding side doors, a large tailgate and the option of a short or long wheelbase, this is an ideal option for those with a busy lifestyle and plenty of people to transport.

There’s also the added bonus of three ISOFIX points for children’s car seats and great onboard tech that will keep families happy when on the move.

What’s new?

While this style of car is a first for Vauxhall, it’s also the first car developed across all of the PSA Group – something Vauxhall is very much part of since its acquisition last year. That’s why, if you did a double take when you saw the pictures, it looks a lot like its sister cars the Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter.

They’re all the same under the skin, but each has been given a different price and style. The Combo Life is on the costlier side compared with its siblings, but for around £20,000 it offers an extremely affordable car for all of the family.

How does it look?

Vauxhall Combo Life - front

Well, it definitely looks like a van with windows, but that doesn’t mean it’s unattractive. Vauxhall has done a great job to make it look cute and compact, especially in the standard short wheelbase variation.

It won’t be to everybody’s taste, but for those who like the compact campers or day vans, this will appeal. In standard length, the Combo Life is 4.4m long, but there’s also the option of a 4.75m Combo Life XL. There are sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle for great access and a huge full-height rear hatch for easy access to the boot too.

What’s the spec like?

Prices for the Combo Life start at £19,610, and although that’s a little basic, our test car with only a slightly higher price tag of £22,500 comes with plenty to play with. Vauxhall’s OnStar infotainment system is easy to use on its own, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.

The Combo Life benefits from creature comforts such as heated front seats and steering wheel, too. Overall, the quality does feel a little basic, but it’s difficult to complain when even the top-spec Energy models start from a competitive £21,710.

What’s it like inside?

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Both the standard and XL versions are available with either five or seven seats. Despite its small proportions, there’s maximum space inside the Combo Life, and Vauxhall boasts 28 storage bins and pockets. With no bulky centre console between those in the front and the large windscreen, it creates the impression of even more space. A high roofline will keep even tall passengers comfortable in the front and rear, too.


If you’re regularly moving bikes, large musical instruments or sports kits, the five-seater version will give you an 850-litre load area and the rear two seats in the seven-seater can be removed. With a low boot floor and no lip, its van-like credentials give it great family practicality.

What’s under the bonnet?

The car we’re driving today is equipped with a 90hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine, but if you’re looking for more power there’s also a 130hp version. Vauxhall claims the diesel will achieve a very appealing 67.3mpg and emits just 111g/km of CO2.

It’s also available with a 1.2-litre petrol that can achieve 51.4mpg on a combined cycle and emits 125g/km of CO2. Despite its low starting price, there are a number of driver assistance and safety features available too, such as advanced park assist, forward collision alert, automatic cruise control and driver drowsiness alert, which all do what they say on the tin. It’s available with PSA’s IntelliGrip system as well, which is designed to improve handling and stability on any surface.

What’s it like to drive?

Vauxhall Combo Life review | The Car Expert

Although Vauxhall explains that this is very much an MPV and not a van, the latter is how it feels. It also looks like a van and has a handy space for your job sheet and clipboard in the dash, which all makes for a compelling van argument. However, that’s not a bad thing at all.

The Combo Life is really comfortable to drive, even long distance. The upright seating position is extremely comfy and, while it’s not the speediest car in the world with a 0-60mph time of 12.7 seconds, it’s got enough grunt to get you places and is quite happy cruising on a motorway.


The Combo LIfe is really versatile, but with so much space readily available it’s a great option if you’re constantly on the move with little or large people on board. The boot space will be a huge plus point for many owners, especially with no lip to lug cargo over, and the comfort levels are sure to impress for this price.

If your family life is hard-wearing and likely to take a toll on your vehicle, the Vauxhall Combo Life is an ideal runaround.

Rebecca Chaplin
Rebecca Chaplin
Articles by Rebecca Chaplin are provided for The Car Expert by the Press Association. They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.


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